In European terminology, the Far East is the geographical region that includes East and Southeast Asia as well as, to a lesser extent, North Asia, particularly the Russian Far East. South Asia is sometimes also included for economic and cultural reasons.
|Literal meaning||Far East|
|Vietnamese alphabet||Viễn Đông|
|Mongolian Cyrillic||Алс Дорнод |
|Malay||تيمور جاءوه |
Malayong Silangan (literal)
|Tamil||தூர கிழக்கு |
|Russian||Дальний Восток |
IPA: [ˈdalʲnʲɪj vɐˈstok]
The term first came into use in European geopolitical discourse in the 15th century, particularly the British, denoting the Far East as the "farthest" of the three "Easts", beyond the Near East and the Middle East. Likewise, during the Qing dynasty of the 19th and early 20th centuries, the term "Tàixī (泰西)" – i.e., anything further west than the Arab world – was used to refer to the Western countries.
Since the mid-20th century, the term has mostly gone out of use for the region in international mass media outlets due to its eurocentric connotations. The Russian Far East is sometimes excluded due to cultural and ethnic differences.
Among Western Europeans, prior to the colonial era, Far East referred to anything further east than the Middle East. In the 16th century, King John III of Portugal called India a "rich and interesting country in the Far East (Extremo Oriente)." The term was popularized during the period of the British Empire as a blanket term for lands to the east of British India.
In pre-World War I European geopolitics, Near East referred to the relatively nearby lands of the Ottoman Empire, Middle East denoted north-western South Asia and Central Asia, and the Far East meant countries along the western Pacific Ocean and eastern Indian Ocean. Many European languages have analogous terms, such as the French (Extrême-Orient), Spanish (Lejano Oriente), Portuguese (Extremo Oriente), German (Ferner Osten), Italian (Estremo Oriente), Polish (Daleki Wschód), Norwegian (Det fjerne Østen) and Dutch (Verre Oosten).
Significantly, the term evokes cultural as well as geographic separation; the Far East is not just geographically distant, but also culturally exotic. It never refers, for instance, to the culturally Western nations of Australia and New Zealand, which lie even farther to the east of Europe than East Asia itself. This combination of cultural and geographic subjectivity was well illustrated in 1939 by Robert Menzies, a Prime Minister of Australia. Reflecting on his country's geopolitical concerns with the onset of war, Menzies commented that: "The problems of the Pacific are different. What Great Britain calls the Far East is to us the Near North."
Far East, in its usual sense, is comparable to terms such as the Orient (Latin for "East"), Eastern world, or simply the East, all of which may refer, broadly, to East and South-East Asia in general. Occasionally, albeit more in the past, the Russian Far East and South Asia have been deemed to be part of the Far East.
Commenting on such terms, John K. Fairbank and Edwin O. Reischauer (both professors of East Asian Studies at Harvard University) wrote, in East Asia: The Great Tradition:
When Europeans traveled far to the east to reach Cathay, Japan and the Indies, they naturally gave those distant regions the general name 'Far East.' Americans who reached China, Japan and Southeast Asia by sail and steam across the Pacific could, with equal logic, have called that area the 'Far West.' For the people who live in that part of the world, however, it is neither 'East' nor 'West' and certainly not 'Far.' A more generally acceptable term for the area is 'East Asia,' which is geographically more precise and does not imply the outdated notion that Europe is the center of the civilized world.
Today, the term remains in the names of some longstanding institutions, including the Far Eastern Federal University in Vladivostok, Far Eastern University in Manila, the Far East University in South Korea, and Far East, the periodical magazine of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. Furthermore, the United States and United Kingdom have historically incorporated Far East in the names of several military units and commands in the region, such as the British Royal Navy's Far East Fleet, for instance.
|Name of region and
territory, with flag
|Capital||Forms of government||Currency||Official languages|
|Russia||6,952,600||8,371,257||1.2||Moscow||Federal semi-presidential republic||Ruble||Russian and |
27 other co-official languages
|Brunei||5,765||417,200||72.11||Bandar Seri Begawan||Absolute Islamic Sultanate||Brunei dollar||Malay and English|
|Cambodia||181,035||16,245,729||81.8||Phnom Penh||Constitutional monarchy||Riel||Khmer|
|Christmas Island||135||1,843||10.39||Flying Fish Cove||External territory of Australia||Australian dollar||None|
|Cocos (Keeling) Islands||14||544||43.0||West Island||External territory of Australia||Australian dollar||None|
|Malaysia||330,803||32,049,700||92.0||Kuala Lumpur||Federal constitutional monarchy,
|Myanmar (Burma)||676,578||53,582,855||76.0||Naypyidaw||Unitary presidential
|Philippine peso (Piso)||Filipino and English|
|Singapore||722.5||5,638,700||7,804.0||Singapore||Parliamentary republic||Singapore dollar||Malay, English, |
Chinese (Mandarin), and Tamil
|Timor-Leste (East Timor)||15,410||1,167,242||78.0||Dili||Parliamentary republic||U.S. dollar / Centavo coins||Tetum and Portuguese|
||1,371,821,094||145.0||Beijing||One-party socialist republic||Yuan (Renminbi)||Chinese (Mandarin)|
|Hong Kong||1,108||7,448,900||6,777.0||Hong Kong||Special administrative region
of the People's Republic of China.
|Hong Kong dollar||Chinese, |
|Macau||115.3||653,100||21,340.0||Macau||Special administrative region
of the People's Republic of China
|North Korea||120,540||25,368,620||212.0||Pyongyang||Juche unitarian dictatorship
|North Korean won||Korean|
|South Korea||100,363||51,446,201||507.0||Seoul||Unitary presidential republic||South Korean won||Korean|
|Taiwan||36,197||23,577,271||650.0||Taipei||Semi-presidential system||New Taiwan dollar||Chinese (Mandarin)|
For purposes of this Law, the standard spoken and written Chinese language means Putonghua (a common speech with pronunciation based on the Beijing dialect) and the standardized Chinese characters.